Every month I take it in turns with The Telegraph’s Pete Naughton to recommend my favourite podcasts in certain genres to the listening public. In January, we talked comedy.
Here are my picks…
Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend (Earwolf)
Conan O’Brien is one a slew of major celebrity types to start podcasting. For those who are unaware, Conan O’Brien is a comedian who has become famous over the years for hosting a late night chat show in the States. As a result of his successful career, he has amassed an amazing little black book of contacts, however, he doesn’t – in his words – feel like he has any “proper” friends.
The premise of this podcast, then, is to re-connect with some of his famous acquaintances in the hope he can rekindle long running connections and gain real friendship.
It has to be said that Conan’s tongue is firmly in his cheek throughout. This show is produced in collaboration with Earwolf – the same company that is part of Midroll Media, Stitcher and the big media conglomerate E. W. Scripps Company – and it’s all the better for it.
Only around half an hour long – which is short for US based comedy shows – I’d recommend this if you enjoy big star comedians talking about irreverent topics. [LISTEN]
Personal Best (CBC, Canada)
Personal Best is a podcast from the Canadian Broadcast Corporation – the equivalent of the BBC over there I suppose – and it’s one of my new favourite discoveries in the past few months.
Personal Best describes itself as a self-improvement show for people who don’t like self-improvement. This is a perfectly accurate description, but it’s also one that’s woefully inadequate for a show that’s so fiercely interested in the lives of the people it’s trying to help. Hosted by the comedian Rob Norman, who is a comedian, and his trusted producer Andrew Norton, the podcast is better described as a series of surprising, curious, and exceedingly generous portraits of individuals that are conveyed through a kind of hopeful campaigns designed to fulfill their very specific dreams.
One episode features a woman who just wants to wake up to her alarm clock on time, even though she gets up fine on the weekends. Another revolves around a city-dwelling woman who’d like to help birth a cow. Taken as a collective, the podcast is a delightful and delightfully dorky romp through a world of hidden wants and quiet dreams. [LISTEN]
Quickly Kevin (Will He Score?)
A 90s football-obsessed podcast, hosted by comedian Josh Widdicombe (formerly of 5 live’s Fighting Talk), Chris Skull and producer Michael Marden.
The guys get in a guest each week – usually a footballer from the 90s, like Matt LeTissier, or Paul Merson – and talk around a big topic associated with football in the 90s. Josh Widdicome also brings in his comedian mates and talks about why the period meant so much to him – it’s very nostalgic!
It’s gone from strength to strength over the years and the guys have even played to huge live audiences around the country. I particularly enjoyed the series over the World Cup last summer where they took a look back at previous tournaments concentrating on Italia 90, USA 94 and France 98 with additional quizzes and a great feature called ‘Do I remember this right?’ where they try and get to the bottom of mysteries around obscure 90s footballers.
It feels very much like a group of people you’d love to be mates with (well, I would anyway). [LISTEN]
The Alice Fraser Trilogy (ABC, Australia)
Something slightly different to end on. Alice Fraser is an comedian who has partnered up with the ABC in Australia to produce her stand up show – recorded live – into a podcast for the network. But this isn’t just a straight stand up comedy routine. This is something with a bit more depth, and dare I say, slightly morbid too.
Written and performed by Alice Fraser at the 2018 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the podcast series consists of 3 shows that explore the boundary between comedy and tragedy and the fact that it’s been produced using a binaural microphone makes the listening experience even more intense.
It flicks from her stage show to some separate reflective bits – it’s often brave, honest and it’s great that Alice has used the platform to showcase her talent. [LISTEN]